May 26, 2023
Update: Pip Decks has kindly reached out and provided minimalgoods readers with a 15% discount, just use the code MINIMALGOODS at checkout.
Pip Decks are a deck based system (including Miro templates and video tutorials) that help you facilitate workshops and improve the design processes of a team.
I've found them beneficial in my day-to-day workflow and recommend them (well, most of them) to all designers looking to up their game.
I've been a product designer since 2005 and have been operating my own studio since. For the last year, I've been under contract with lululemon as the design system lead, and I have used them extensively in my day to work.
This includes workshops with leadership and fellow designers, as well as helping build a training program for designers getting increasingly involved with iOS design.
I purchased 3 of the decks myself, and these are my honest thoughts after using them for 6 months.
About Pip Decks
Pip Decks are marketed as a tool for those working in team environments to help ditch imposter syndrome and lead with confidence.
They release new decks every so often, each with its own purpose. I currently have 3 of their primary decks: Storyteller Tactics, Workshop tactics, and Team Tactics.
The company was founded by Charles Burkett, who wanted to develop an easy-to-follow, system-based workflow to tackle the problems he was facing daily as a designer.
It looks like things are going pretty well over there, and are pulling in over 5 million dollars of revenue annually. Not bad.
What do you get with your purchase?
- A printed card deck with a charming display box and excellent build quality.
- A digital version of each card for quick access on the go.
- Video walkthroughs of most tactics.
- Miro templates of all the tactics
The real value (for me, at least) of this product comes from the video walkthroughs of some of the key sessions, showing you exactly how you should be running the workshops.
The miro templates are a nice touch for some, but the overall design could be better.
Workshop Tactics Review
Out of all of the Pip Decks, this is my favorite by a long shot. It was their first deck, and its primary goal is to help lead your team by providing you with the tools to facilitate purpose-driven meetings.
At first, I thought it was just a deck of exercises you would pick and choose based on your needs, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a "Workshop Strategy System" as the first card in the deck.
This card is the crucial piece of the puzzle for how this deck works. It asks you various questions about where you are in your process, then recommends a set of cards based on your answer.
How workshop tactics are grouped
Each group of cards is color coded and is designed to solve a specific problem based on where you are in the process. They are broken down into the following groups:
Agree on the desired end-state to work towards so daily activity is moving you in the right direction.
Unpack problems and discover insights with critical and analytical thinking exercises.
Clearly articulate your problem or experiment, making it easier to start solving or testing.
Encourage people to come up with many ideas and then refine and develop the best.
Assess problems or ideas against specific criteria to understand them better.
Prioritize ideas or problems based on your needs to decide what to focus on.
Facilitate discussion to reach a shared understanding so you can move towards your goal.
Core techniques for planning and facilitating successful workshops.
Beyond the basic cards for each section, there are also session cards that contain many cards for longer sessions that can take 3-4 hours.
These are great when kicking off a new project or meeting with a new team.
My 3 favorite tactics
There are far too many cards to go over, so I'd like to give a brief overview of the three that I've found the most useful.
This is a fun little exercise to nail down your teams' goals and what sort of things are stopping them from being achieved.
I like running this through with project stakeholders to ensure everyone is on the same page regarding goals and what's holding everyone back.
I always annoy people when I run through this tactic, but it does help discover the root cause of a problem.
It's a simple tactic that relies on asking "why?" 5 times to surface real issues. Once you get to that root cause, you can run a series of workshops to address it.
This workshop is one I recommend whenever you start working with new teams. I've been running some training with 30+ designers, and this one is always a hit.
It's a simple exercise to discover unique skills from each team member, matched up with where people would want to improve.
It fosters the most connections, and I've made friends outside work because of it.
Storyteller Tactics Review
Of the three that I've purchased, storyteller tactics is the one that I've used the least so far (due to my current tasks in my day to day work.)
Since I've been running a studio for so long, developing a bit of a "pitch game" starts to happen naturally over time. This deck contains some great exercises to help refine that pitch into something more cohesive.
It's also an excellent deck for job interviews since it gives you different ways to tell your personal story with a compelling beginning, middle and end.
My 3 favorite tactics
Hero & Guide
The "hero's journey" is a prevalent way to tell a story and emphasizes the end user as the story's hero.
Stop talking about yourself, and let the struggles of the end user guide what you're saying.
Man in a hole
This is a pretty famous tactic, even used by novelist Kurt Vonnegut — "nobody ever lost money telling the story of a man in a hole."
It has 5 primary settings, and leading the listener through each is a great formula for any storytelling.
You start with the comfort zone, where everything is ok, but there is some missed potential.
You move onto a trigger, signifying something that caused a lot of friction.
The crisis is when you're at the bottom of your rut and starting to learn something valuable.
Recovery is when you've applied what you've learned to start climbing out of the hole.
Then you end up in a better place, ready to take on the next challenge with everything you've learned.
Show and tell
Sitting through a bad pitch is rough and often comes down to a disconnect between what the speaker is saying and what they are displaying for the presentation.
This tactic is simple, but it shows what relationship you need between story and visual to keep everyone captivated.
Team Tactics Review
The Team Tactics Pip Deck is the one to reach for when you're in a leadership position, trying to help drive a successful team.
It helps with defining roles, providing clear direction, support mechanisms, measuring team health, getting everyone to work together, and ways to help your team share their work clearly.
I received this in the mail a few weeks ago and have yet to run it through the paces. That said, I still need to discover my top 3 tactics, so I'll update this part in the future.
Pip Decks Pros and Cons
- The strategy system for each deck takes out the guesswork of "which card do I use?"
- The session cards are great for when you have bigger goals to accomplish
- Their video walkthroughs have been a great source of inspiration for running these workshops.
- They are expensive for most people
- The miro templates are nothing special
- No Figjam templates
Pip Decks video review
Pip Decks promo code
Beyond black friday, it doesn't look like there are any Pip Deck discounts floating around.
Update: Pip Decks has reached out and have kindly provided a 15% discount for minimalgoods readers.
Use coupon code MINIMALGOODS at checkout.
No risk purchase policy
Since I bought my decks, this looks like a new guarantee from the Pip Decks team.
If you have yet to feel like you've received 10x of the deck's value, they'll refund you in full.
How much are Pip Decks?
Short answer? Not cheap.
If you're looking for the physical deck + digital cards + video tutorial access, you're looking at around $260 USD per deck.
There are a couple ways to get a discounted rate, including buying a package deal with multiple decks, bulk purchases, an education discount, or the coupon code at the bottom of this article.
In most cases, these workshops are nothing new. You can find the frameworks in plenty of business books and online templates, but the true value comes from the curation of each, and the system to combine them.
Their systemized approach to running workshops is the standout feature of these decks and the video walkthroughs are icing on the cake. My confidence in being a facilitator has increased by leaps and bounds since I made the purchase.
I highly recommend Pip Decks, looking forward to future releases, and would suggest starting with Workshop Tactics to get an idea on how the system works.
Use code MINIMALGOODS at checkout to get an additional 15% off